Vader Man Convicted in Death of Boy Files Civil Rights Complaint Against Lewis County

By Natalie Johnson / njohnson@chronline.com

In separate decisions last year, the state Court of Appeals ruled that because of an error in tabulating their criminal history, Danny and Brenda Wing could withdraw their guilty pleas in the abuse-related death of 3-year-old Jasper Henderling-Warner and begin their defense anew.

However, six months after the court’s ruling on Brenda Wing’s appeal and nearly a year after the ruling on her husband’s, neither has taken advantage of the opportunity, and have instead continued to file appeals, motions and petitions with the intent of eliminating or reducing their 34-year sentences.

Jasper Henderling-Warner
Jasper Henderling-Warner

Courtesy Photo 

Most recently, Danny Wing filed a federal civil rights complaint Jan. 5 in U.S. District Court accusing the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office and the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office of listening in on privileged phone calls between Wing and his attorney while he was in the Lewis County Jail in 2014.

 Former Vader Man Recants Confession in Death of Boy, 3

“Defendants acted under color of law to deprive Mr. Wing of certain constitutionally protected rights, including, but not limited to, freedom of speech, the right to counsel and due process,” the complaint argues.

He also alleges that investigators in Lewis County violated his right to privacy. He demanded a jury trial regarding his complaint.

Furthermore, Wing asks for damages and attorneys’ fees. A hearing in the matter has not yet been scheduled.

Wing has previously filed a very similar personal restraint petition with the state Court of Appeals in November 2016 asking the court to dismiss his case for the same alleged misconduct by the Prosecutor’s Office.

Danny and Brenda Wing

Brenda, left, and Danny Wing, both from Vader, wait for their hearing to begin in Lewis County Superior Court at the Lewis County Law and Justice Center in Chehalis in this 2015 file photo.

Pete Caster / pcaster@chronline.com

He told the Chronicle last year that he recanted any admission of guilt in the case and plans to first focus primarily on that the petition.

That petition has not yet been resolved.

In addition to the above cases, both Wings last year filed motions in Lewis County Superior Court under Washington Court Rule 7.8, which allows defendants to ask “relief” from a judgment or court order for reasons including mistakes, newly discovered evidence or fraud.

Brenda Wing filed her motion first, on Feb. 3, 2017, asking for her sentence to be vacated based on “newly discovered information.”

However, she withdrew her CR 7.8 motion on June 16, 2017.

Danny Wing filed his CR 7.8 motion on Dec. 7, 2017, arguing that he should be re-sentenced because a diagnosis of fetal alcohol syndrome “exacerbated his youthfulness.”

A hearing on the motion has not yet been scheduled. The ruling from the state Court of Appeals already granted each Wing the right to re-argue their sentence.

Danny and Brenda Wing were each sentenced to 34 years in prison in 2015 after pleading guilty to first-degree manslaughter and third-degree assault in the 2014 death of 3-year-old Jasper Henderling-Warner in Vader the year before. They had been the child’s guardians in the months before his death from what the Lewis County Coroner’s Office ruled to be prolonged abuse.

 Updated: Emotional Pleas, Failed Polygraphs Lead to Exceptional Sentence for Vader Man Convicted in Boy’s Death

The boy had a septic MRSA infection and healing fractures, burns and bruises, according to the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office.

In 2017, the state Court of Appeals ruled in each case that the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office incorrectly calculated the Wings’ offender score, a number based on criminal history that determines a standard sentencing range, affecting the sentence for the third-degree assault charges, but not the manslaughter charge.

Brenda Wing’s offender score was calculated at 6, but should have been 5, according to the court’s brief. For an offender score of 5, the sentence should have been 17 to 22 months. For a score of 6, the sentence would be 22 to 29 months.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer noted at the time that the third-degree assault sentence ran concurrently with the 34-year sentence on the manslaughter charge, which the appeals court did not specifically overturn. Regardless of the sentence on the third-degree assault, the Wings would still be in prison for 34 years on the more serious charge.

 Prosecutor: Vader Couple Convicted in Boy’s Death Broke Plea Deals, Lied in Statements

The appeals court ruled against the prosecutor’s argument.

In October, Superior Court Judge Andrew Toynbee ruled that Danny Wing needed to either exercise his right to change his plea in the next month or lose it.

Wing appealed that order.

“That stays his decision making … until the court of appeals is done.” Meyer said Tuesday.

Brenda Wing has not yet been back in Superior Court to address the appeals court’s ruling.

 Judge: Man Convicted in Death of Vader Boy Has 1 Month to Make Up His Mind on Plea